"Her Next Adventure": Telling your kids that your Au Pair is leaving

by cv harquail on August 25, 2008

waving goodbye little boy2 When people ask me about what it’s like having au pairs, one of the most common questions is “How do you and your kids handle having someone leave (and someone arrive) every year?” It can be very hard on the family, both parents and kids, when an au pair departs.

One thing that I have found that makes it a little bit easier on my girls is to explain to them that the au pair is leaving because she has to move on to her “next adventure.”

I describe the au pair’s reason for coming to the US and her reason for leaving the US as being part of what she needs to follow her life’s adventure. The idea that a young woman should be powerful and creative to pursue her life’s adventure, even to the point of living in another country for a year,is something I’d like my kids to see as valuable and normal. And, this explanation for an au pair’s motivation also helps the kids feel better when it’s time for the au pair to leave. They realize that she isn’t leaving because she doesn’t like the kids anymore, or because she is unhappy, but because she needs to move on to her next thing.

Sure, sometimes this explanation doesn’t seem like enough for my girls. Thanks when I remind them that the au pair’s mom must really be missing her. waving goodbye

What do you tell your children when it’s time for your Au Pair to leave?

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PhillyAuPairMom September 2, 2008 at 3:18 pm

We are about to transition au pairs, and are thinking about how to say good bye to a fabulous au pair. We are curious if anyone has suggestions about saying goodbye –

– Did you give your Au Pair gifts? What kind?
– Did you do anything special for your family, community, your/her friends to say goodbye to your au pair and if so what?
– Any other thoughts on saying goodbye?


tripletmommy September 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm

We got a wonderful suggestion from a friend, we gave our outgoing (and wonderful) AP a silver engraved locket with the girls pohotos inside. She was very touched and loved having a piece of jewlery that she sould remember us by.

cvh September 4, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Hey Moms- thanks for your comments…. you’ve prompted me to get up a post specifically about gifts :-) Let’s see if we get some good suggestions about other ways to say goodbye….

Lisa September 9, 2008 at 5:17 am

Yes, we always have an intimate goodbye- just the family, a cake, some champagne (which she never drinks, but we enjoy it)– and we also take her out with a friend or two for dinner and make sure to keep the focus on her– her plans, etc. I have never actually given a gift, but it is a good idea.

This year we are taking our au pair to Universal Studios. It is something she has wanted to do and has not been able to afford it– and we will also have an intimate goodbye at our house, with cake and champagne and, again, we will keep the focus on her.

We usually start talking about the goodbye 3-4 weeks before she leaves. So, all of the transitional, emotional stuff gets played out slowly.

My kids are really going to miss this one!


Lisa September 9, 2008 at 5:24 am


By now the kids understand that the au pair comes for a year and leaves on a certain date– that she has a family and that she is off to get a job, that she came to live here to learn about another culture and to learn English. I think it is important to go over this and to start saying goodbye ahead of time— first, because kids can blame themselves if a babysitter leaves and second, because talking about missing someone before they go takes some of the sting out of it and gives everyone a chance to sort of savor their last few weeks.

cvh September 11, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Hi Lisa-

I love the idea of taking your AP on a trip or activity that she’d wanted but couldn’t afford herself — and the bonus here is that it creates memories for everyone in the family.

I’ll hold on to your other suggestions and add them to a follow-up post on goodbyes…

thanks for all your comments!! cvh

Anna May 26, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Although I still have 7 weeks to go, we already started to tell my hostchild (4), that I’m going to leave. Fortunately the new Au Pair has Skype, so I call her, when the kids are around and they can talk to each other. She seems to slowly understand, that when I’m gone, the new Au Pair is going to be there to play with her and that when I am gone, I’m going to be “in the computer” while I’m talking to her =)

Mom of 2 Girls May 26, 2009 at 11:16 pm

That’s such a great idea! Kids are so resilient, and seem to intuitively understand sometimes when we think it will be so hard for them. I’m sure she’ll miss you a lot, as you sound like a very caring and thoughtful au pair, but how nice that you’re helping her transition easily to the new one.

SD July 7, 2009 at 11:30 am

I need advice for ME. I’m not sure how I am going to handle our au pair leaving. She has been with us for two years and was our first. She is smart, funny, hard working, everything amazing everyone wants. I am going to miss her as much, if not more than the children. Also my expectations for the next one are very, very high and that’s not fair either.

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